By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
Recent Joseph High School graduate Joel Lewis was moved by his visit to Shriners Children's Hospital in Portland Friday.
"I feel sorry for 'em," he said after returning to La Grande that day and taking his football physical at Eastern Oregon University.
The hospital offers medical and rehabilitative services to children from birth to 18 years of age who have orthopedic disorders. Lewis is one of six players with Eastern Oregon ties who were selected to play in the 50th East-West All-Star Shrine football game Saturday at Baker City.
Shae Prince of Union, Brody Turner of North Powder, Kyle Crawford of Enterprise, Eric Johnson of Imbler and Joseph Waite of La Grande also will be playing on the East team.
"Pretty happy," Lewis said about his selection. "Kind of good to know you were picked."
Lewis said he will be nervous until kickoff, but he wants to enjoy the moment.
"I just play it cuz it's fun," said Lewis, who wrestled to a sixth-place finish in the 215-pound weight class at state. Lewis will be joining the Navy.
Waite appreciates what Shriners does for the community.
It's a "good organization," he said. "They do a lot of good things."
Waite's cousin, Kiel Gekeler, played in last year's Shrine game. Waite sang in the a cappella choir and was involved in track in high school.
"I was stoked," he said upon finding out he was selected. "I was pretty excited."
Waite plans to attend Eastern Oregon University for a year before heading off on a mission.
"I felt pretty privileged," Crawford said of being selected for the team. "I know it will be a good experience for me."
Crawford, a member of his high school basketball and golf teams, described why he enjoys football.
"I don't know," he said. "It's kind of a manly sport. You get a lot of adrenaline rushes. It's a lot of fun."
He also likes golf about as much as football because of the "mental toughness thing."
Crawford will be attending Oregon State University.
Johnson plans to attend Eastern Oregon.
He was third in his 189-pound wrestling weight class at state.
Johnson wrestled and played football all four years.
"I like both together," he said. "They're competitive sports. They're really fun to do."
A story on Prince ran in Friday's Observer. Turner's story was published in Saturday's paper.
Past and present Shrine game participants will visit the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center for stage shows, live music and a trailside cookout on Thursday.
The golf tournament for Shriners and past participants is 9 a.m. Friday at the Baker City Golf Club.
The cattlemen's breakfast is 7 a.m. Saturday at Geiser Pollman Park. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. downtown. The Queen's Luncheon will follow the parade. A classic car show follows the parade at the new Albertsons parking lot. Pageantry starts at 6 p.m. at Bulldog Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m., with extended halftime festivities planned.
The week will conclude Sunday with the Thunder Mountain Motorsports races. Gates open at 9 a.m.; racing begins at noon on the speedway south of Baker City.
The Portland hospital, one of 22 Shriners hospitals, opened in 1924 and welcomed its 40,000th patient in February 2002. It is home to one of the largest research facilities in the hospital system.